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First Step to Ease the Pain
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Among Arabian and African countries Sudan is the largest in terms of size. Since independence in 1956, the country has been engaged, for more than three decades during half a century, in civil wars. Last year, the problem in the south, which had been a long-standing headache to the Sudanese government, was resolved when many opposition factions put down their arms and surrender to the government. Analysts said that such a success could shed light on the Darfur issue. Now, the light of peace is appearing on the horizon of this troubled western province.

Arabian media described the crisis as "the Darfur pain in the embrace of Africa". Sudan is home to 19 races and 597 tribes, and Darfur particularly represents the national feature of multi ethnic groups, tribes, religions and cultures. Out of historical reasons and intervention of external powers, fights between local Muslims and black people for resources and living space have been escalating with intensified militant conflicts. The situation has worsened since some western countries are eager to "internationalize" what had been a pure internal affair of Sudan. Backed by outside forces, some local opposition factions insisted on high prices in negotiations with the government. As a result, talks started by the government often fall apart.

The Darfur issue wouldn't have escalated so fast, we should say, without intervention from external powers driven by their own interests. But it is a historical trend and popular will to resolve the issue peacefully. To that end, the Sudanese government has been actively engaged in dialogue and negotiation with opposition factions under the mediation of the African Union; The Sudan People's Liberation Movement also made some concession under pressure from the international community, so that a peace agreement was finally inked.

The Arabian world said they are happy about the peace deal, but is more concerned with its implementation. A Qatar newspaper said in an editorial that this is only the first step on the rocky way towards peace in Darfur. While some media believe that the two parties involved still have reservations or different interpretations on some articles of the agreement, which add to the difficulty in implementation.

Anyway, the first step deserves celebration. Darfur, this piece of oil-rich land where numerous lives have been lost in frequent civil wars, should finally cease to be "a pain in the embrace of Africa".

(People's Daily Online May 12, 2006)


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